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One scenario I have been playing around with is the possibility that Sinn Fein might end their historic abstentionist policy and take their seats if only for a confidence vote. Their 7 MPs would effectively negate the DUP influence and destroy Boris' majority.

Of course the UK media would have a field day talking about Corbyn aligning himself with the IRA, but presumably only diehard Tory/Brexit Party supporters would take that anyway seriously. It was Sinn Fein who drove the peace process that led to the Good Friday Agreement, not the DUP, who opposed it.

Sinn Fein has come under a lot of pressure in Ireland since the death of Martin McGuinness and the retirement of Gerry Adams and did badly in the recent local and European elections, North and south. The main reason is, I think, their failure to do any of the heavy lifting required to oppose Brexit - leaving it all to Varadker and Coveney - and leaving the DUP, with c. 30% support, free to represent themselves as representing N. Ireland.

It would be a hugely historic move for them, though not without precedent. Fianna Fail abandoned abstentionism in the Republic in 1927 with their leader, De Valera, declaring required the oath of allegiance to be nothing but an empty formula. To some extent, abandoning abstentionism would erode their main point of difference with other parties, but at the same time it would put further distance between them and their historic support for the IRA.

There is a school of thought within Sinn Fein that allowing Brexit to happen - as hard as possible - would hasten the creation of a united Ireland by making N. Ireland unviable, but that would not be a widely held view in the south in particular. They risk marginalising themselves in the south if they don't oppose Brexit more effectively, and soon.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 2nd, 2019 at 10:12:19 AM EST
Except that absentionism has become a guiding principle of Sinn Fein.  And like any other corporate policy it doesn't have to make sense to be rigorously enforced.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Aug 2nd, 2019 at 03:54:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[As Frank is probably aware], Fintan O'Toole has a view on how Sinn Fein might stop Brexit, rather than by taking up its seats, by resigning its NI seats and forcing byelections where pro EU parties / candidates are allowed to stand in their stead, take their seats and ensure a pro-EU majority in UK parliament.

O'Toole discussed this on BBC 'Today' this morning [49m46Sec]. The Sinn Fein member for South Down was dismissive, to say the least!.

by oldremainmer48 on Sat Aug 3rd, 2019 at 10:59:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not going to happen. If Sinn Fein were going to do it, they would have done it by now.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 3rd, 2019 at 11:33:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't read Fintan's article until afterwards, and it seems to me to be more unlikely than some of the scenarios I have been painting...  In any case, I don't think there is time for bye-elections now.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Aug 3rd, 2019 at 08:26:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I read that and wondered what Fintan was playing at.  That's only slightly less fantastical than herds of unicorns pissing rainbows across the border as a technological fix.
by rifek on Thu Aug 8th, 2019 at 09:55:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Irish times letter writers are in no doubt that O'Tooles proposal is bonkers and not going to happen. Not up to his usual standard, although it does add some public pressure on Sinn Fein to review their abstentionist policy or else share the blame for Brexit happening against the wishes of the majority in  N. Ireland.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 9th, 2019 at 09:21:40 AM EST
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